It’s History, Baby!

I just recently read 2 historical YAs in a row so I figured I’d talk about them together! Now, before I blogged, I read A LOT of historical fiction. It was mostly adult historical fiction then. Since getting really into YA I haven’t read that much historical fiction. It’s there but until the last year or two I feel like there weren’t THAT many new releases in that genre in YA so I’m excited that there seem to be more on my radar recently! If you like historical fiction, check out some of my favorites! I wrote that a year ago so in that time I’d add A Mad Wicked Folly to that list as well as Brazen!


So what two time periods in history did I time travel to recently??


Munich, Germany in the 1930’s as Hitler is rising to power & on the Oregon Trail in 1849!

So let’s talk Oregon Trail first because UM THAT WAS MY JAM BACK IN THE 90’s. That game, man. I always died from dysentery and what a bitch it was to shoot like 2000 pounds of bison and only be able to carry a 1000 back to the wagon. AND WHEN IT SPOILED?!? UHHHH. And anyone else name the people in your wagon after people you didn’t like so you were like WELP SORRY YOU DIED FROM CHOLERA AIN’T THAT A BITCH.

Under A Painted Sky by Stacey lee reviewUnder A Painted Sky
Published: March 17, 2015

So I really liked Under the Painted Sky! Firstly, it was a great book about friendship between two girls who are on the run together and who are definitely outsiders in Missouri in 1849 — one is a Chinese immigrant and the other is a black slave. I love how their friendship starts as companions out of necessity to flee towards California but it grows along the way and they really feel like sisters. Also, I loved the friendship that forms with the group of boys they meet on the trail. Secondly, GENDER BENDING. So, it’s already going to be hard for them trekking on the Oregon trail as Chinese and African American BUT they are women and they are on the run. SO THEY PRETEND TO BE DUDES AND HAVE TO KEEP THAT UP AROUND THE GROUP OF GUYS THEY JOURNEY WITH (who she even maybe sorta feels romantical feelings about). I loved it.I mean, the logistics of having to pee but also not blow your cover??

I think the only thing that fell sort of short for me (it was a matter of expectations I think) is that I just imagined the sort of harsh conditions of the Oregon Trail that I always learned about (I literally almost also typed in “experienced as I played Oregon Trail hahha maybe that was just my bad gaming). I mean, they had some bumps in the road along the way for sure but it never FELT super dangerous or exhausting or hard to me in the way I thought it was aside from one part closer to the end. I’ve read books where I FELT the elevated danger but for some reason I didn’t have that tense feeling while reading. Still REALLY good and wonderful. Loved the setting and the plot — definitely haven’t seen it done before in YA! And I definitely fell in love with the characters. AND THAT COVER IS EVEN MORE GORGEOUS IN PERSON.



Next up was:

Prisoner of Night & FogPrisoner of Night & Fog by Anne Blankman
Published: April 2014

I have read A LOT of books set in Nazi Germany and the war and dealing with the Holocaust. Where this one was different is that 1) it was set AS Hitler was gaining more popularity and power, not when he was in power and 2) it’s POV is from a young girl whose family (and her own beliefs) are Nazi through and through aka Adolf Hitler is a family friend (until she starts questioning things). Normally the books I pick up are from the POV of the people being persecuted or people who are helping them (aka The Book Thief the family is German but they don’t believe the Nazi agenda).

I love watching the main character question everything she’s ever been told/believed as she’s faced with some truth that changes her whole life and she gets close with Daniel who is Jewish…who she’s been told to hate and fear. It was SO interesting to see Hitler as a person — he’s called Uncle Dolf and she’s super fond of him. There was still no good feelings towards him from me but it was an interesting thought how he might have looked to family and friends. This book got REALLY intense and I could NOT put it down. As she started looking into things that went against EVERYTHING she and her family stood for, the stakes got higher. Loved her and thought she was so brave — for how she handled it but also I think it takes a courageous person to stand up to everything you believed even when it means you’ll probably lose everything you had before. Can’t wait to read the conclusion (it’s a duology I’ve been told).



*Standard disclaimer: I did get both of these for review but PINKIE SWEAR/GIRL SCOUT HONOR…these opinions are mine whether they sent it or I hauled my butt to the library/doled out cash money to get it.*

So let’s talk…have you read either of these? What historical settings are your favorite to read? Have any recs for me??
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I have ordered Under a painted sky and I’m waiting for it to arrive, I cannot wait! *-*

  2. I have both of these checked out from the library right now. Hopefully I can get then read soon!

  3. I think one of the best historical series I’ve ever read was His Fair Assassin. LOVED it!

    • I’ve been wanting to get into this series because I’ve heard everyone RAVE about it. Heard the author speak and was SO SO SO intrigued!

  4. Great reviews! Under A Painted Sky is on my TBR for sure. It sounds so interesting.

    • Definitely interesting and really refreshing because I haven’t encountered anything like it in YA historicals!

  5. Bummer that you didn’t feel the danger from Under a Painted Sky. I felt THE SAME WAY when I played Oregon Trail. Everyone was dying and there were HELLA DANGEROUS RIVERS, OMG! It felt like this huge journey that was rarely successful, so that’s kind of what I would expect from a book.

    But whatevs. I’m glad you still enjoyed it for the most part!

    • Like it definitely was dangerous…forging the river and they did encounter tough things. But I didn’t feel it in my bones like I sometimes do with things like that if that makes sense. I don’t know if I just had this expectation of WHAT the journey would be like or what. Towards the end I felt it heighten a little bit but most of the journey I didn’t. BUT it was still a good book. Like nothing that ruined it or anything. Just maybe different expectations?

  6. I’m really excited about Under a Painted Sky! I don’t know if I’ll get to it soon because my committee work reading just started up again but it sounds so great (although I’ll remember that probably no one is going to get scurvy or die of dysentery since you said it’s not like the game!).

    For some reason (maybe conflating it with Sekret?) I thought that Prisoner of Night and Fog was supernatural or historical fantasy. I might have to reconsider dismissing it now that I’ve realized it’s straight historical.

    • Oooh I can’t wait to hear what you think about Under A Painted Sky when you get to it! And it’s not that there WASN’T dangerous things…they did encounter things…but I just didn’t FEEEEEL this sense of impending danger and hardship in my bones like I thought I would. If that makes sense?

      Nope no paranormal or anything like that in Prisoner of Night and Fog. Straight up historical fic. Definitely reconsider it! (I also think I originally thought it was too??)

  7. Both of those books are on my to-read list! I really look forward to reading them, especially after reading your thoughts on them. I’ve heard such good things about Prisoner of Night and Fog, I have to bump it up to a priority read.

    • YES good life to choice to have them both on your TBR! I’m going to be recommending these both a lot I think!

  8. I so desperately want to read both these books. I was addicted to Oregon Trail as a kid, too, but I actually learned how to get my entire party to Oregon safely with a crap-ton of possessions that the land-seller always said something along the lines of, “I can’t believe your oxen managed to pull all that stuff!” Anyway, I love historical fiction and want to read more of it. Prisoner of Night and Fog sounds intriguing. And THE STAKES? KEEP GETTING HIGHER? I really want to read it now, both of the books! 😀

    • I should have been playing Oregon Trail with you!!!! I so want to play it right now and finally beat it hahah.

      Yes, I keep finding myself flipping the pages faster as it got more intense. Sometimes my hands were moving faster than my brain could process because I just wanted to know what would happen haha

  9. Hey so glad you enjoyed Under a Painted Sky! I recently just finished it and loved it. It’s definitely new for me because I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and westerns? I probably will be reading more of those in the future. 😉


  10. JAMIEEEE. I’m going to make it my personal mission to rekindle your love of historical fiction, okay? okay.

    • OKAYYYY. I mean, I still love it. But I’m just not as drawn to it anymore??!??! WHYYYY. But definitely reading these two in a row made me remember why I loved it so much!!!

  11. I went through a stage where I went through a Historical Romance stage.
    Prisoner of the Night Fog looks really interesting, can’t wait to pick it up sometime.
    Happy Reading <3

    • Ooh historical romance. I’ve only read one of those (a Julia Quinn book) and I was totally into it. I mean, I love historical and I love romance sooooo YEAH.

  12. I’ll rec both Prisoner of Night and Fog & its sequel until I am blue in the face. Normally historical fiction is not my thing, but the WWII era is a time in which I am VERY fascinated with. I actually JUST picked up Under The Painted Sky at the library today. I’m wanting to expand my horizons a bit. Now knowing that you enjoyed it, makes me more excited to read it.

    • Yes I’m going to be reccing it a lot to people who maybe are hesitant to read historical fiction. It had a good pacing! You will have to let me know what you think about Under the Painted Sky!! Also, I seem to really be drawn to WWII era as well!

  13. These books sound great! Definitely need to check them out!

  14. I had no idea that Prisoner of Night and Fog was about Hitler. I’m interested to see how she struggles with her conscious and especially to see Hitler from a different pov – before his rise to power.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  15. I don’t think I’ve ever read YA historical fiction and it’s one I want to try. Prisoner of Night and Fog sounds like something I’d savor so I might check it out. Thanks for putting it in my radar, Jamie!

  16. Funny how many people around my age have the same experiences with Oregon Trail. That game was just freaking fantastic. Also…I’m now going to have to go take a peek at Under a Painted Sky. The TBR just keeps getting bigger…

  17. I’ve read both Prisoner of Night and Fog, and Under a Painted Sky, and really liked them both! They’re definitely unique takes on a particular time in history, which I love, and they offer a young adult perspective, which I also love. I’m glad you found your reading experiences for both enjoyable!